Gab, a Reddit alternative known as home to members of the alt-right who fled the platform after its first crackdown on hate, is seen as a cloistered online haven for the conservative fringe. But now, in the wake of tech’s “crackdown” on Alex Jones and InfoWars, Gab’s CEO says the platform is facing its own threats.
In a post on Gab and Twitter, Gab CEO Andrew Torba alleged that Gab host Microsoft Azure sent a warning, seemingly over email, over two anti-Semitic posts, threatening to suspend services to Gab if they failed to take them down, per Microsoft’s “Acceptable Use Policy.”
BREAKING: Gab’s hosting provider, Microsoft Azure, has given us 48 hours to take action on two posts or they will pull our service and Gab will go down for weeks/months. pic.twitter.com/dIfaeTr2Go— Gab.ai (@getongab) August 9, 2018
The posts referenced in the alleged screenshots are two anti-Semitic posts by neo-Nazi Patrick Little — a man who is known for waging public campaigns against Jewish people. Little frequently denies the Holocaust and has said that he believes Adolf Hitler is “the second coming of Christ.”
One of Little’s posts referenced in the alleged Microsoft email begins with “No amount of suffering could repay, eye for an eye, the debt the jew owes the world.” In the other referenced post, Little threatens to destroy Holocaust memorials.
Both posts are still up as of this article’s writing.
Microsoft Azure’s Acceptable Use Policy is vague, just seven bullet points, but three potentially apply here:
Neither you nor those that access the Services through you may use the Services…to violate the rights of others…in a way that could harm the Services or impair anyone else’s use of them… or for any high risk use (where failure or fault of the Services could lead to death or serious bodily injury of any person, or to severe physical or environmental damage).
Microsoft’s main site, not specific to Microsoft Azure, encourages individuals to “report hate speech content posted to a Microsoft hosted consumer service,” listing age, disability, gender, national or ethnic origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity as potential targets of hate.
The History of Gab
The posts Microsoft allegedly mentioned in its email are not necessarily surprising for the platform.
The site, which plays host to alt-right figures like Milo Yiannopoulos and InfoWars’ Paul Joseph Watson, was founded in 2016 following several high-profile alt-right bans on Twitter (including of Milo himself). It was billed as a “free-speech” focused alternative to larger social media sites, and quickly attracted a predominantly alt-right crowd.
Gab says that rather than enforce hate speech rules, it allows users to mute each other, which Twitter now also allows. “If you don’t want to see these people, you can mute them. Our policy is to have free speech within the legal limitations of the law,” Torba told Fox News.
According to Gab, the recent movements against InfoWars by big tech companies have given the social media site a boost. Torba said in a Gab post that 16,000 new users have joined since Monday, when Apple, YouTube, Spotify, and Facebook all took action against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his InfoWars network. A cursory scroll through Gab seems to validate this claim. Elaine Shirah wrote Thursday, “Hello all, just signed up. Facebook is getting way too big for its britches.”
In another post from Wednesday, Theresa wrote “Hello Patriots. CNN sucks. I deleted You tube so from my world. I am censoring their hate speech. God Bless Alex Jones & President Trump.”
If Gab is facing pressure to moderate its content following the collective action against Alex Jones, it wouldn’t be the site’s first time. Gab has repeatedly been rejected from Apple’s App Store for hosting porn and objectionable content. Google removed Gab from the Google Play store in 2017, citing its hate speech policy. That same year Gab’s domain registrar AsiaRegistry requested that Gab remove a post from Daily Stormer’s Andrew Anglin that mocked Charlottesville victim Heather Heyer.
The dilemma the company is facing is one that is increasingly familiar in alt-right spaces — begin to moderate content and lose users, or risk losing the entire community. It’s unclear which Gab will choose.
Inverse has reached out to Gab and Microsoft, and will update this post with any comment.
Photos via Screenshot / Ben Goggin